This Corn and Peas Pulao is a simple, light and flavorful meal that works well with any curry on the side.
When I was around 10, my mother made an impromptu decision to become the first vegetarian in a meat-eating household. Which meant that on Sundays (the one day of the week that was designated as ‘meat, meat and nothing but meat’ day) she had to cook meat for everyone else with an additional vegetable side for herself.
For all intents and purposes, being a vegetarian made my mother’s life more hellish than it already was, but the woman stuck by her decision, and not once did she falter. Over the years, my dad (who was an excellent cook) jumped in, and every Sunday, while she cooked chicken for us, he would make her a vegetable side, as sort of a thank you. This became a cute and unspoken ritual that went on every week without fail, at least until my father succumbed to his cancer.
I still look back at our Sunday lunches together, how utterly delicious and blissful they were, not only because of the food, but also because it was probably the only meal we ate together in a week. And this Corn and Peas Pulao made its feature almost every other week, as it was a perfect accompaniment to both the chicken curry and the vegetable stir-fry.
Normally in a Pulao, the rice cooks along with the vegetables and the whole spices, the flavors mingling together as one in the end. But after giving away their essence to the rice, the vegetables themselves seem to lack their juicy bursts, the very thing that makes them what they are. And I always found it to be a very sad metaphor that reminded me of those burdened so heavily by life that they loose the very thing that makes them special. Quite a somber thought, isn’t it, to come from a mouthful of pulao?
Anyway, that’s how I’ve always made Pulao until one Christmas afternoon changed it all. We make a large pot of chicken Biriyani for special occasions, and it doesn’t get more special in the Dawson household than it does at Christmas. And while we always make a separate vegetarian menu for my mother, that particular year, things got a little more crazier than usual, and long story short, all the rice got par-cooked in preparation for the Biriyani.
Thankfully someone noticed the mistake before we started layering in the meat and curry (this is what happens when you put 4 cooks into a small kitchen – too many cooks do spoil the proverbial broth!) and we managed to save some of that par-boiled rice for my mom’s pulao.
Since the rice was already cooked with some whole spices, I just quickly sauteed some peas and corn in butter and added the rice to it. A few minutes of tossing and it was done. And it was better than any pulao I’ve ever had.
For one, the gracefully long grains of Basmati were beautifully fragrant, partly from their own nature and partly from the whole spices that they cooked in. The vegetables, sauteed in butter gleamed on the rice, studded like little shiny drops on emerald and gold on a plain white canvas. And every bite delivered a burst of sweet juice from the peas and corn, and now that I think about it, a few roasted cashews wouldn’t be such a bad idea to add either. It’d make for a creamy and yet crunchy contrast in texture.
This was one kitchen mishap that was easily turned right back around to something much more than was was originally intended. And it was a mistake that I intentionally repeat now, often more times than the traditional way.
Pair this Corn and Peas Pulao with your favorite curry and maybe some chilled raita and enjoy your slow and comforted descent into blissful oblivion. This is one food coma from which I wish never to wake from.